Democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Sunday suggested that adopting universal Medicare would actually boost the economy and put more money in Americans’ pockets, despite studies putting the cost of such a venture at tens of trillions of dollars.
Her comments came days after far-left progressives suffered a series of losses in major races in New York, where Gov. Andrew Cuomo soundly defeated upstart “resistance” candidate Cynthia Nixon. Despite having Ocasio-Cortez’s endorsement, Nixon lost in Ocasio-Cortez’s district by thirty percentage points.
“One of the things that we need to realize when we look at something like ‘Medicare for all — ‘Medicare for all’ would save the American people a very large amount of money,” Ocasio-Cortez told CNN’s “State of the Union.”
The New York Democratic congressional nominee continued: “What we see as well is that these systems are not just ‘pie-in-the-sky.’ Many of them are accomplished by every modern civilized democracy in the western world.”
Ocasio-Cortez, who shocked New York’s political establishment by unseating longtime Rep. Joe Crowley in a primary in June, cited the United Kingdom, France, Canada, and Germany as countries with similar single-payer health systems.
“What we need to realize is that these investments are better and they are good for our future,” she added. “They are generational investments, not short-term bandaids. They are really profound decisions about who we want to be as a nation, and how we want to act as the wealthiest nation in the history of the world.”
Host Jake Tapper noted that according to “left-leaning” analysts, Ocasio-Cortez’s plan for universal Medicare would end up costing more than $30 trillion dollars, even after factoring in the sweeping tax hikes that would offset the expense by only roughly $2 trillion.
One study, released in July by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, said Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ proposed ‘Medicare for all’ solution would increase government health care spending by $32.6 trillion over 10 years, and require historic tax increases.
Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez have countered that while spending would necessarily increase in the short-term, fundamentally restructuring Medicare would ultimately yield sustained economic benefits by reducing administrative inefficiencies and encouraging young people to put more money into the economy.
But Charles Blahous, a senior strategist at the Mercatus Center and an author of the study, has said Ocasio-Cortez and Sanders would need to make unrealistic assumptions to come to that conclusion because increased demand for healthcare would offset any such administrative gains. He criticized the two for making comments that “appear to reflect a misunderstanding of my study.”
Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez aren’t the only candidates pushing similar health care proposals. Presidential contenders, including Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., endorsed a universal Medicare program last year.
There were signs, however, that enthusiasm for Ocasio-Cortez’s brand of progressivism have faltered lately, even on her home turf. In Thursday’s gubernatorial primary, Gov. Cuomo handily beat back a challenge by far-left insurgent progressive Cynthia Nixon, who was endorsed by Ocasio-Cortez. So-called “resistance” candidates also fell in the races for lieutenant governor and attorney general, although a democratic socialist candidate with a disputed past triumphed in her race for a state Senate seat.
On Friday, Cuomo downplayed the notion that socialism is on the rise, and also seemingly took some personal shots at both Ocasio-Cortez and Nixon, a former “Sex and the City” star.
“That is a revolution,” Cuomo said, referring to his double-digit win over Nixon. “That is a wave. On the numbers. Not on some Twittersphere dialogue where I tweet you and you tweet me and between the two of us, we think we have a wave. We’re not even a ripple.”
He added, “New York Democrats, these are hard-working men and women, they’re middle class, they’re working families, they have real problems, and they need real help in life, and they don’t need theoretical or abstract solutions, they need real solutions in their lives.”
As for Ocasio-Cortez, Cuomo flatly declared: “I am not a socialist. I am not 25 years old. I am not a newcomer. But I am a progressive, and I deliver progressive results.”
On Sunday, Ocasio-Cortez demurred when Tapper asked her about Cuomo’s comments and the losses for progressives across New York last week.
“Well, I mean, I’m always down to go toe-to-toe sometimes, but I think when you actually look at the numbers we focused on, every single down-ballot progressive candidate in my district, New York 14, won.”
When Tapper pointed out that Nixon, whom Ocasio-Cortez had endorsed, lost that district by thirty percentage points, the Democratic socialist insisted, “right, right, but we focused on our local candidates and we focused on the legislatures.”
Ocasio-Cortez concluded by suggesting that “all parties” are entitled to due process in the wake of an unverified and anonymous allegation, leaked recently by Democrats, concerning alleged improper sexual behavior by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh decades ago.
But Ocasio-Cortez, pressed by Tapper as to whether Kavanaugh’s nomination should justifiably be derailed by an anonymous accuser, made clear she doesn’t think due process is a two-way street.
“One of the aspects of due process is that we have to hear these things out, and he should certainly not be confirmed until this is explored,” Ocasio-Crotez said. “I think that really, when we talk about process, and due process and justice, it must center on the victim. I cannot say what should be done or should not be done, but what we need to make sure there is that there is due justice for the victim in this case.”
Fox News’ Adam Shaw and Brooke Singman contributed to this report.